Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Exfoliators - Sugar Scrub


I love this sugar scrub!  I have used it for many years.  I make this in a small lock-n-lock container.  There aren't exact measurements - just basic guidelines depending on the size of the container you use.




Pour plain old table sugar into the container with just a little space left over.  Sugar acts as a natural exfoliator, does not clog pores, helps eliminate blemishes and restores balance to skin’s oils.  It contains glycolic acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid that is crucial for maintaining healthy skin.  The natural glycolic acid in sugar not only helps condition and moisturize skin, but protect it from toxins.



Add enough lemon juice to make a thick paste.  Lemon juice in skin care is a natural exfoliant, skin brightener and anti-infective.   Lemon juice is rich in fruit acids that will exfoliate to gently remove dead skin cells and will also bleach darkened or discolored areas.




Pour a thin layer of olive oil on the top.  Olive oil will promote a smooth, radiant complexion and help maintain elasticity of skin.  It is high in antioxidants, including vitamin E. Antioxidants are nutritional powerhouses that protect against age-accelerating free radicals. The olive oil also works to lock in an extra layer of moisture when used in this scrub.




Stir it all together.  It will separate a bit as it sits.  Before you use it, just stir it back up with your finger.




I keep it in the shower with the lid on it so it is always ready to be used.  This is  wonderful for the face and the whole body.  It keeps those dry feet and elbows at bay as well.


Click here to view more posts in this series.


So, what's your favorite body scrub?


I'm sharing this @ Frugal Days, Sustainable WaysWildcrafting Wednesdays and Your Green Resource.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Exfoliating Scrubs - Baking Soda


To have beautiful, glowing skin it's necessary to exfoliate sometimes.  I have two simple recipes for you that do this for you with minimal effort.  Today's exfoliator is as simple as it gets.  Baking soda.  That's it.


Sprinkle a little baking soda into your hand and massage it into a clean, damp face.  Rinse.  It's gentle enough that it won't damage your skin cells, yet has just enough grit to get the job done.  You'll be amazed at how nice this leaves your skin feeling and looking.  I make sure to exfoliate on a weekly basis, sometimes do it two or three times, depending on how my skin is feeling.


I keep an old Parmesan cheese jar filled with the good stuff.  It makes it easy to shake out for exfoliating or any of baking soda's other gazillion uses.


It doesn't get much cheaper than this.  On Meijer.com, 2 four pound boxes sell for $4.18.  I actually bought mine in the store so, I don't remember the exact cost, but I'm sure it was still barely over $2.00.  Using the on-line price as a basis, that breaks down to $.03 per ounce.  You definitely won't use an ounce to exfoliate, so the cost per use really doesn't even register.


Click here to view more posts in this series.


Tomorrow I'll share my favorite face and body sugar scrub.  See you then!


I'm sharing this @ Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Skin Care Series - Eye Cream


Today I want to share my favorite eye cream with you.  It is super simple to make using only two ingredients - coconut oil and Vitamin E.  In yesterday's post we learned that coconut oil is a protective antioxidant and supports tissue repair and healing.  

This is what www.healthy-skincare.com has to say about Vitamin E:


In terms of skin health and skin care, vitamin e benefits are numerous. In fact, skin care products that contain vitamin e have become an essential part of healthy skin care.

Antioxidant
First of all, because of its antioxidant activity, vitamin e is vital in protecting skin cells from ultra violet light, pollution, drugs, and other elements that produce cell damaging free radicals. It is believed that vitamin e is most effective in its natural alcohol form rather than its acetate form where it is a less effective antioxidant. Watch for this in the labelling of skin care products.

Regulator for Vitamin A
The vitamin e benefits for healthy skin care also include its ability to regulate vitamin a in the body, which itself is important for healthy skin.

Anti-Aging Benefits of Vitamin E
Vitamin e added to lotions, creams, and other skin care products, as well as taken orally, plays a role in the anti-aging of skin. It helps skin look younger by reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Also, free radicals are believed to play an important role in skin aging and therefore the antioxidant activity is quite valuable for this skin problem.

Treatment of Skin Diseases
Vitamin e can aid in the treatment of various skin diseases or skin conditions. Topical applications such as those used to treat psoriasis is one of the benefits of vitamin e. Orally ingested vitamin e can help treat erythema (a skin inflammation that results in reddish, painful, and tender lumps).

Skin Cancer Benefits of Vitamin E
One of the most important benefits of vitamin e is the prevention of skin cancer. This occurs because of its sun protection quality and of course its powerful antioxidant properties, which help reduce or prevent sun damage.

Other Vitamin E Benefits
There are a variety of other benefits of vitamin e for skin care:
  • vitamin e products help reduce the appearance of stretch marks
  • vitamin e can help prevent the appearance of age spots
  • it helps maintain the skin’s oil balance during the cleansing process
  • it reduces transepidermal water loss from skin and strengthens the skin’s barrier function
Overall for skin care, more benefit is obtained from topical application of vitamin e through creams or lotions rather than taking vitamin e orally. Skin is able to absorb natural vitamin e effectively. However, taking vitamin e orally is important for the good health of other areas of the body. 

Now that you know why we're using coconut oil and Vitamin E, let's find out how to turn them into an eye cream.  First you need to find a container to make your cream in.  The one in the picture is a miniature jelly jar.  My guess is that it is between a half and one ounce.  In the past, I've just used clean eye contact containers.  

Fill your container with coconut oil.  It is solid at room temperature and doesn't begin to melt until it reaches 76 degrees Fahrenheit.  So, at this point I put it in the microwave for just a couple of seconds until it begins to melt.  Next, you poke a hole in your Vitamin E capsules and add to the melted coconut oil.  For the jar above I used 3 capsules.  I use 1 capsule per side when using contact containers.  Then, I use a tooth pick or wooden skewer and blend them together.  At this point I put the cream in the refrigerator to become solid again.  After that happens there is no need to keep it refrigerated.  The oils will not become rancid.  

That's all there is to it.  When my sister was here visiting I let her try it and she was immediately hooked.  So I made her up a batch and sent it home with her.  About a week later she sent me an e-mail telling me that she LOVES this eye cream.  She said it was better than the expensive stuff she was buying.  And this costs nearly nothing per batch. :0)




I got the recipe for this wonderful eye cream from a fantastic book, "Return to Beauty" by Narine Nikogosian.  It is full of awesome recipes using natural ingredients.  Narine breaks the recipes down not only by skin type, but by season as well.  I rented it from my local library, but it is one I would definitely invest in.

*Update, 3/5/13 ~ This blog post was written a year and a half ago and has absolutely shocked my socks off that so many people would end up seeing it. I began this tiny blog as a creative outlet. Period. I am a mom who has had her fair share of skin issues and am on a journey to better health. I thought it would be nice to share the things I was learning along the way. Notice the keyword JOURNEY. I don't claim to have all the answers. I don't claim to do everything perfectly. Having said that, there have been many comments about melting the oil in the microwave. In the time since this post was written I have stopped melting the coconut oil in the microwave. Use your own judgement. No one is going to arrest you if you still use the microwave. If you are someone who avoids it like Chernobyl, that's fine, too. Just please keep in mind that everyone is in a different stage of their journey - so be kind in your comments. You attract more flies with honey than vinegar.

As far as the proportions go...relax. You're not going to mess this up. It's kind of like making good ol' southern cornbread. You'd really have to go out of your way to ruin it. Use whatever container you have available and guesstimate the amount of Vitamin E you should add. I used 3 capsules to an ounce. If you don't want to use capsules, use oil.

Be aware...some people are allergic to Vitamin E. If you make make this and your eyes swell up...well, you might be one of them. Just leave it out next time. The coconut oil is still wonderful on its own. 

Coconut is a unique oil in that it will become liquid at 76 degrees F. If you live in a warm climate where this is an issue, feel free to keep it in the fridge. It will still work exactly the same way if it is melted, though.

I hope that this has answered many of the questions that arise. If not, please read through the comments. Many of the same questions have come up again and again and I have attempted to answer them in the comments. If that still doesn't cut it for you, then by all means, ask away!

One final reminder...in everything you do (including making this eye cream) - use your best judgement. If you know something that would work better, do it. If you know you have an allergy to an ingredient, skip it. Everyone is different and what works for one may not work for another.

Click here to view more posts in this series.

Next, we'll tackle exfoliating scrubs.  Hope to see you then!

I'm sharing this post @ Frugal Days, Sustainable WaysWildcrafting WednesdaysSimple Lives Thursday and Your Green Resource.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Skin Care Series ~ Moisturizers

Hey, y'all!  I hope you had a very Happy Thanksgiving.  My family did. :0)  I think it's so wonderful that we set aside a day every year to really stop and focus on the blessings we have in our lives.  This year I'm thankful for a husband who is my soul mate, a son who is my joy, a wonderful family, and a Father who loves me in spite of myself.  I'm also thankful that He provided us with an earth full of plants, herbs, fruits and vegetables to nourish us on the outside as well as within.  So, with that in mind, I want to continue on our Natural Skin Care Series and talk about ways to moisturize our skin.  Breaks over...




Remember these guys from the Oil Cleansing Method?  I told you we would see many of the same ingredients for multiple uses.  Let me give you a bit more of my back history.  Back several years ago I was looking for an effective way to moisturize my dry skin.  The product brands that seemed to do an OK job were out of my budget.  The ones that were within my budget just weren't getting the job done.  One day I heard about olive oil making a really great moisturizer and then I remembered the scripture in  Matthew 6:17-18 when Jesus instructed to put a little oil on the head during fasting so as not to draw attention to the fact.  I remembered reading that He said this because in ancient cultures it was customary to use oil as a moisturizer and Jesus was really telling the people to go about their normal routines.  I already had olive oil in the cabinet, so I promptly went and tried it.  I've never looked back.  I finally felt like I had found something that penetrated my skin without leaving it feel greasy.


There are several oils that you can use for moisturizing.  I alternate between three, depending on the time of year and what my skin seems to be doing.  But, I only used olive oil for several years.  The three that I tend to use are olive oil, grapeseed oil and coconut oil.  They are all pretty inexpensive (especially if you compare them to commercial moisturizers) and have wonderful benefits to the skin.  A couple more oils that are commonly used for this purpose are sunflower seed oil, jojoba oil and sweet almond oil - though I have never personally used any of these.  There may be other oils that I'm not aware of used in skin care.


First, I'm going to tell how I use them.  Then, I'll share why each of the three oils I use are so wonderful.  I keep a cruet in the bathroom with a little olive oil in it at all times.






I keep the grapeseed oil in an old pump hand soap dispenser on the sink.  But, any pump dispenser would work great for either of these oils.




Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, so I just dig a pea sized portion out of the container and warm it briefly in my hand to melt it before applying it to my face.


Let's talk about extra virgin olive oil.  Shortly after I started using it in my skin care routine, I received a catalog in the mail from a high-end skin care company.  They were singing the praises of the product that "started it all" for them.  Have a look-see...


THE GOOD OIL - If you thought you'd never put oil on your face, think again.

Remember when you were a teenager and you had your first skincare lesson? Oil, you were told is bad for you and makes you break out. But that oil myth has officially been debunked.

What's so great about oil, you ask? Oil gives skin softness, elasticity, and protection from harmful impurities and irritants, and as we age, our bodies produce less sebum, which results in dehydrated skin. The question should be - are we getting enough?...



Guess what this awesome product is. That's right.   Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It has absolutely nothing added to it. No aloe, vitamin E, peptides, alpha hydroxy acids..... Just plain old olive oil. They sell 1 fl. oz. in their catalog for $39. I guarantee that even if you buy organic extra virgin olive oil, you will pay no where near $39 per ounce.  If you can't afford organic, just buy regular extra virgin olive oil for starters.  Your skin will still be much better off than loading it with industrial moisturizers.  So will your pocket book.  Here's some more of olive oil's benefits...Olive oil is high in antioxidants, including vitamin E. Antioxidants are nutritional powerhouses that protect against age-accelerating free radicals (think anti-aging).  It aids in moisture retention, regenerates skin cells and softens skin tissue.  Not only is it wonderful when applied to the face, it is an excellent all-over body moisturizer.  If you battle dry feet in the winter, put a little olive oil on them followed by a pair of sox.  This blows the old Vaseline stand-by out of the water.


Grapeseed oil - From Wikipedia:


Grape seed oil is a preferred cosmetic ingredient for damaged and stressed tissues, possessing regenerative and restructuring qualities which allow for strong control of skin moisturization. It can help skin retain the normal structure of epithelium cells and nerve cells via supporting the cell membranes. It is noted to be especially effective for repair of the skin around the eyes. Used as an all-over skin moisturizer, grape seed oil is known to reduce the look of stretch marks. A light, thin oil, grape seed oil leaves a glossy film over the skin when used as a carrier oil for essential oils in aromatherapy. It contains more linoleic acid than many other carrier oils. Grape seed oil is also usable as a lubricant for face shaving. In addition, grape seed oil applied to the feet each morning clears up many foot problems such as itching, scaly flaking and odor.


This is barely scratching the surface of grapeseed oils benefits, but it gives you a good picture for our purposes.  I buy my grapeseed oil at Trader Joe's and a 16 oz. bottle costs $4.  I find that this oil is lighter than EVOO, so I use it more often in the summer when my skin isn't as dry as during the cold winter months.


Coconut Oil - This stuff is so amazing it needs it own series.  For brevity's sake I'm going to try to keep the information pertaining to it's moisturizing/skin benefits.  It is slow to oxidize, extremely stable and lasts up to two years before going rancid.  So, this stuff will last you a long, long time.  As a matter of fact, you'll probably use it up way more quickly than it will spoil on you.  


According to "Real Food" by Nina Planck, coconut oil's main fat is lauric acid, which is antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral.  Lauric acid kills fat-coated viruses including HIV, measles, herpes, influenza, leukemia, hepatitis C, Epstein-Barr, and bacteria, such as Listeria, Helicobacter pylori, and strep. 


From The Nourishing Gourmet: Coconut oil kills fungi and yeasts that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete's foot,  thrush, diaper rash and other infections.  It also expels or kills tapeworms, lice, giardia, and other parasites.  Coconut oil supports tissue healing and repair, functions as a protective antioxidant, helps to protect the body from harmful free radicals that promote premature aging and degenerative disease, functions as a protective antioxidant,  and helps to protect the body from harmful free radicals that promote premature aging and degenerative disease.  It has no harmful or discomforting side effects and is completely non-toxic to humans.  


Now, I personally love using coconut oil as a moisturizer.  It is light and velvety and soaks in really quickly, leaving my skin silky smooth.  Knowing that acne can be caused from bacteria on the skin and seeing how coconut oil kills a billion and one bacteria and viruses - I think it makes sense to use it.  Some will caution that it is comedogenic and will cause break-outs.  Others say that if you get acne while using coconut oil as a moisturizer it's because your skin is detoxifying and will automatically clear up if you stick it out.  I don't have the answer to that.  But, I do know that as a person with acne prone skin, I don't have an issue using coconut oil.  Maybe it's because I also do the oil cleanse method, which cleanses deep into the pores and un-blocks them naturally.  My advice to you is use your own discretion here.    


Any moisturizer you choose to use should be applied sparingly on slightly moist skin.  This means - after you cleanse and dry your face, spritz it with your choice of toner and then moisturize before the toner dries.  This will lock in the moisture.  Remember, a little oil goes a long way.  Give it a few minutes to soak in before you try to apply make-up.  


My point in this post is this:  There are several options using healthy, natural oils that will not only moisturize your skin, but give it wonderfully nourishing, anti-aging benefits as well.  You don't need to turn to expensive commercial products with largely inflated claims of making your middle-aged skin look 19 again.  Let's get real, people.  Unless we turn to botox or surgery, aging to some extent is just going to happen.  It's part of life.  But, I do believe we can slow down the aging process by not overloading our bodies with toxic chemicals.


Click here to view more posts in this series.    


Now it's your turn to share. :0)  What do you use to moisturize your skin?  Are you happy with the results?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Facial Cleansers - Natural Bar Soap

Hello, Peeps!  Glad to see you today. :0)  Are you ready to learn about another super easy form of facial cleansing today? Well then, let's get at it...  We're going to talk about all-natural bar soap.






Before I discovered The Oil Cleansing Method, I discovered the wonders of natural soap.  I grew up in a Dove household.  Then, when I set up my own home, of course, we were Dove people, too.  It is the most moisturizing of all soaps after all.  Right?  I mean, they actually treat your skin with 1/4 moisturizing lotion.  After my son was born we realized that he had extremely sensitive skin.  He wasn't even able to take a bubble bath as a little guy.  The doctor recommended that we only use Dove on him.  Not a problem.   Well, a few years ago we started really having issues with his hands in particular.  At the same time I began learning about why natural soap is better and decided to say good-bye to Dove.


Here is a taste of what I've found.  First of all, industrial soaps take out the natural glycerin that is formed during the soap making process.  They do this because they can then use the glycerin in more profitable lotions and creams.  Glycerin is a natural humectant, which basically means it's very moisturizing.  This makes a very gentle soap which is especially wonderful for children and those with sensitive skin.  It is also good for oily skin because it prevents and cures acne related skin problems. It also has the ability to slow down or reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  Glycerin also guards against bacterial skin infections.  Good stuff.  See why we want to keep it in our soap?


The next issue with industrial soaps is that they add toxic ingredients to make up for the nourishing ones they remove.  Remember, most companies are looking out for their bottom line, not your health.  It's much more cost effective for them to do this.  Two of the additives they use are Sodium Laurel Sulfate and/or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS).  You've probably heard of the dangers of this by now.  But, in case you've been living under a rock somewhere, let me briefly catch you up.


From www.naturalnews.com:  


Sodium lauryl sulfate did not start off as a detergent that was meant for use in consumer products. It was initially sold as an industrial strength detergent primarily used for heavy duty cleaners and degreasers. It is now found in products which are in close and frequent contact with human skin.

The reason it is used in so many products today is that consumers have come to expect abundant lather in products that are supposed to cleanse in some way. It is one of the most largely manufactured chemicals in the United States since many companies use it as a cheap lathering agent.


SLS irritates skin and compromises natural moisture balance, allows toxins to penetrate and is a toxin itself, and it irritates and erodes eyes, gums and hair follicles.

Now it's easy to see why companies that sell products like Dove aren't really all they're cracked up to be.  Dove truly may be better than the average industrial soap, but it falls extremely short of the natural stuff. 

Let's talk about cost for a bit, keeping Dove as our industrial standard.  I went onto Walmart.com this morning for pricing because not only do most people have access to a Walmart store, they usually have better prices than many other stores.  A six pack of the basic white Dove is $6.88.  If you want the sensitive skin type it is $10.94.  That breaks down to $1.15 per bar for regular Dove and $1.82 for the sensitive skin type.  If you don't use Dove this cost is probably even lower.  

The cost of a bar of natural soap can greatly fluctuate between brands and sellers.  Whole Foods sells a basic natural bar soap at 3/$5.00.  Before I found Whole Foods I bought a brand that I could pick up at Meijers, which is a northern version of Walmart, because they have a decent selection of natural products.  Basically, everywhere I've looked, you can expect to pay between $3 - $5 per bar of natural soap.  Now, that is a significant increase in price over industrial bar soap.  But, let's look at this from another point of view.

What are you using to wash your face with right now?  I would venture to say that for the majority of us it isn't bar soap.  So, how does $3 - $5 compare with the face wash that you're using now?  My guess is that if you're buying a special cleanser it's still more than this.  And, is it full of chemicals that are toxic?  When I began to look at purchasing natural soap from this perspective it just made sense.  So, I took the plunge and have never looked back.  The benefits that my family has reaped in regards to our skin health has been totally worth it.  Even my son's hands are clear now.  Though, I always take a bar with us when we travel or they break out again.  

Being the person that I am, once I realized that natural soap was the way for us to go, I learned how to make it at home.  I use the recipe from the DVD Homestead Blessings: The Art of Soap Making, but there are many recipes out there.  This takes my cost per bar of soap down to $.53.  That is so much cheaper than even industrial soap.  Now, I know that this isn't for everyone.  But, the cost to benefit ratio is so worth it.  If you can't source natural soap in your area, there are many artisans on Etsy.com who craft handmade soap to sell right in their own home.  This is also a great way to support small businesses.  

Once, before I started making soap, I bought a single bar of Dove for some reason or another.  My family was amazed at the difference between it and the natural soap.  What we once thought of as the gold standard in moisture, we now found to be drying.  Amazing how things change.  :0)

A few last notes about natural soap and then I'll wrap this up because this post is getting lengthy.  
  • It doesn't get any easier than washing your face this way.  All it takes is a couple of seconds and you're done. 
  •  I have actually found this is cost effective in a few ways because one product does so much.  We use the same thing for washing our bodies and our faces.  We have even been able to stop buying shaving cream or gel.  This soap is so emollient that it does a fantastic job at lubricating skin for shaving.  We even use it on occassion to wash our hair (but I'll get to that later in the series).  
  • It is also easy to take with you on a trip - just stick in a travel soap container.  One bar is much less to pack than multiple soaps, body washes, cleansers, shampoos, etc.
  • Natural soap is not full of chemicals that strip our skin of moisture and fill it with toxins.  On the contrary, it is packed with beneficial oils and glycerin that nourish our skin and naturally fight bacteria.
To view more posts in this series, click here.

So tell me, have you ever used natural bar soap to wash your face?  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Facial Cleansers - The Oil Cleansing Method

I think many of us are tired of paying out the wazoo for products that make grand claims and rarely deliver.  We want to get back to the basics - keep it simple, keep it cheap, get the job done.  As with anything in life, I don't believe there is one magic bullet or end all - be all to skin care.  Each person has unique skin and sometimes you just have to experiment a little to find out what works for YOU.  However, I do believe (because I'm experiencing it myself) that natural is better.  I think that if we'll get out of the way with all of our synthetic and chemical treatments, then our skin will respond and begin to function like God intended for it to.  Sometimes, there is a detox period with our body attempting to rid itself of all the gunk we've been filling it with.  But, I just want to encourage you to hang in there if you find this happening.


Also, what we put on our skin is only a part of what determines how healthy our skin is.  What we put into our bodies contributes, too.  For instance, as I mentioned when I kicked off this series, I had terrible, hormonal, cystic acne when I was a teenager.  I'm still battling my hormones, but my skin is so much better.  In addition to my skin care routine, I have learned that hormones are directly tied to insulin, which is directly tied to refined carbs and gluten.  That's why I've had to go gluten free - to help balance my hormones.  But, for the purpose of this series I'm simply sticking to skin care.  I make no claims to know everything there is about this subject.  I'm just a chick who has battled with acne, dry skin and a tight budget.  Plus, I'd really like to not look like "Leather Head".  :0)  I am in a continual process of learning about health and skin care.  I read about it.  A lot.  And, I use myself as a guinea pig.  I simply want to share some things that I have personally found to be of virtue.  So, with no further adieu, we are moving from toners on to cleansers.  Ready?  This one really sounds wacky...


THE OIL CLEANSING METHOD (OCM)


I know, we're taught not to put oil on our faces.  It clogs our pores and causes break-outs.  Right?  Oh, so wrong!  Here's why:  Our bodies make oil, fact of life.  It isn't some sinister scheme to cause 'pizza face' and load us with embarrassment and shame.  Our skin makes oil for a much grander, benevolent purpose - it heals, protects and moisturizes the skin so it functions properly.  Properly functioning skin is healthy, beautiful skin.  When we strip away the natural oils with harsh cleansers and chemicals, the skin goes into red alert mode and begins producing MORE oil to make up for what it lost.  It puts us into a cycle of having tight, dry skin then to something you could fry an egg on if the sun was high enough in the sky.  That approach is really counter-intuitive.  So, our goal is to learn to work with our skin and stop fighting it.  "And, just how are we going to do this?", you might ask?  Drum roll please...


By using the oil cleansing method.  Oil actually dissolves oil.  We are actually going to use 2 different oils for this.  The first is Castor oil.  Yes, the stuff your grandparents or parents have nightmares about ingesting.  I have 2 different bottles (I forgot I had already bought a back-up.).  One says it's for cosmetic use and flannel packs and the other says it's a stimulant laxative.  But, really it's just different marketing 'cause they're exactly the same.  Buy whatever you can get your mitts on.




Castor oil is anti-inflammatory (pimples anyone?) and has wonderful healing and cleansing properties.  It travels deep into the pores to lift dirt, make-up and grime to the surface where it can be wiped away.  Castor oil is a thicker oil and can be drying if too much is used.  For both of these reasons we need to blend it with a carrier oil.  A 4 oz. bottle of Castor oil should be under $5 and will last a long time.




I have used both extra virgin olive oil and grapeseed oil as my secondary oil.  Other recommended choices include sunflower seed oil and coconut oil.  I don't have experience with either of these oils and would personally stay away from coconut oil in this instance because it becomes solid at room temperature.  To me it's easier to keep it in liquid form.  Anyway...Not only does the carrier oil help to transport the Castor oil deep into your pores, it has essential fatty acids which is needed in cell membranes and helps to restore moisture and prevent dryness.  You probably have one of these oils in your cabinet right now, so your out-of-pocket cost would be nada.  Otherwise, go get yourself a bottle of EVOO from the dollar store.  It won't cost much and I promise, we're going to use the snot out of it. :0)


The ratio of Castor oil to carrier oil depends on your skin type.  If you tend to have dry skin like I do, use more of your carrier oil.  If you have more oily skin, use more Castor oil.  A good rule of thumb is as follows:
                     Dry Skin:  10% Castor oil to 90% carrier oil
                     Normal Skin:  20% Castor oil to 80% carrier oil
                     Oily Skin:  30% Castor oil to 70% carrier oil


I have even seen some recipes for a 50/50 blend of the two oils.  This isn't rocket science.  There's no need to get out the weights and measures.  Just eye-ball it.  If you think the mix isn't right after using it, add more of one of the oils.




I used to keep my cleansing oil blend in a small jar that I would just shake up and stick my fingers in to use.  Now, I have it in this old Rosewater bottle with a flip lid.  It really doesn't matter what you use so long as it's easy for you to use.  If you make it difficult you won't do it.  I saw the little sample bottles with these type of lids this weekend for $1 at the superstore and 2 for $1 at the dollar store.  I just chose to use what I had on hand.


Now that you have your supplies bought and assembled, you need to know what to do with them.  It's easy peasy.  You can take off your eye make-up first if you like, but it's not necessary 'cause this stuff right here will do the job.


THE METHOD:


Pour about a quarter sized amount of your oil cleanser into your hand and massage into your dry face.  Take a minute or two and massage it in really well, concentrating on your problem areas.  You want to give it every opportunity to get deep down in those pores to dissolve the yuckies. :0)  While you're doing this heat a wash cloth under hot running tap water.


Once you have sufficiently massaged the oil into your skin, wring out the hot wash cloth and lay over your face until it cools.  I usually do this twice.  This allows the steam from the wash cloth to open up your pores so the impurities can be wiped away.


After your cloth has cooled, you simply use it to wipe away the dirt and oil.  That's it.  You can now apply toner and moisturizer if you like.


A COUPLE OF NOTES:




I did this to my husband after he had just stepped out of the shower.  He was blown away by the amount of dirt that came out of his pores even after just washing his face.



I usually do this in the mornings or as I'm stepping into the shower.  I can rinse my hair and steam my face at the same time.


If you do this before bed, you shouldn't need to wash your face in the morning.  A splash of cold water on the face will do the trick.


Don't feel like you have to do this every day.  A few times a week when you think of it will wonders.


For more information on the OCM see www.theoilcleansingmethod.com.


Go here to view other posts in this series.


So, what do you think?  Have you ever tried the OCM?  Would you give it a shot for healthier, more balanced skin?


Join me tomorrow for another easy cleansing method!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Skin Care Series ~ Rosewater Toner



I have recently begun using rose water in rotation with witch hazel as a facial toner.  Rose water is a distillation of damask rose petals.  It smells wonderful - not like all those awful synthetic rose fragrances.  That's because it's the real thing, baby.


According to www.wisegeek.com, rose water is an anti-bacterial and has antiseptic properties.  In ancient Rome, people bathed in it and it is still used in many countries today as a hand wash.  Www.answers.com also says that rose water can be directly sprayed to the face as a natural fragrance and moisturizer, especially in the winter.  It is also used in India as drops to clear the eyes.  Because of this, I always try to let a little of the spritz get into my eyes when I use it.  In addition, www.alcanz.com, says that rose water has been used for thousands of years as a natural toner and astringent because it balances and restores skin's PH levels and tightens pores.


I tend to naturally have larger pores.  I have noticed a definite reduction in pore size since I have begun adding rose water as a toner as part of my skin care routine.  Plus, it seems to really soften my skin.  Now, I don't think that using rose water is absolutely necessary to include as part of skin care.  As a matter of fact, I solely used witch hazel with great results for nearly two decades.  But, since I have access to the rose water now, I have noticed additional benefits since using it.


One word of caution if you should want to use rose water as a toner - make sure you buy pure rose water.  The first time I picked it up was at the grocery store in the ethnic food isle, as it is also widely used in cooking.  When I got home I realized that the rose water I bought used rose fragrance instead of being a pure distillate.  So, now I buy mine at Whole Foods.  It is a little more expensive than witch hazel, but still much less costly than other toners.  I pay $5.95 for a 4 oz. bottle, which lasts several months.  It is even less expensive to buy a larger bottle, but it's not always available.


Go here if you'd like to view more posts in this series.


Have you ever heard of using rose water in facial care?  Would you ever consider using it?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Skin Care Series ~ Witch Hazel Toner

For probably the past 18 years I have used witch hazel exclusively as my toner, until I added another natural toner here recently that I alternate with.  I'll share that one next time.  But, I digress...  Gone are the days of exclusively using Clinique because it was non-comedogenic and dermatologist recommended.  Don't get me wrong, I liked Clinique.  But, it got to be expensive for a newly-wed-barely-making-ends-meet budget.

I've had both a dermatologist and an esthetician tell me that it's the only toner that a person ever needs to use.  Not to mention the countless places I've read about it or heard on television.  And here's why...

Witch hazel is absolutely amazing!  It is a strong anti-oxidant and astringent, making it wonderful for treating acne.  It is also used to treat psoriasis and eczema,  and heal wrinkles (Yes! You read that right!).  It treats bruises, insect bites and varicose veins. It helps prevent sweating of the face and is great for treating a sunburn - both very helpful in summer. :0)  Also, because it is an astringent it is great for treating cuts and scrapes (think styptic pencil), so you might even be able to get your man to start using it!  These are just a few of the fabulous uses of witch hazel.  If you'd like to learn more about it's benefits see hereherehere or here.  There is much more information about witch hazel out there than this, but if you want to do further research on it you're just on your own, Sister!  Yes, I'm nice that way.


To implement witch hazel into your skincare routine, simply pour it into a small spray bottle.  After you wash and dry your face, spritz it on before applying your moisturizer.  Note: You don't want to let it dry before moisturizing.  Putting moisturizer on a slightly damp face will lock in moisture much better.  And, that's it.

Not only is this super simple, but it's super cheap.


The Dickinson's witch hazel is $2.99 per bottle.  Compare that to the price of your current toner.  But, look at the price of the Meijer store brand - just $1.69 per bottle.  I compared ingredients and they are same.  Guess which one I buy?  Witch hazel is a product that works really hard for very little pay.

Now it's your turn to share.  Do you use toner?  What kind?

Go here if you're interested in viewing the rest of the posts in this series.

Friday, November 18, 2011

New Skin Care Series

I've recently been giving my blog a nice little make-over.  In the process, I realized that I hardly had any posts on skin care.  Speaking of make-overs, my skin care routine has done a complete turn-about in the past several years.  


When I was a teenager I had horrible cystic acne.  I spent about 3 years seeing a dermatologist.  Not only was it ugly, but it was painful.  Sometimes it even hurt to talk or smile.  My dermatologist once told me my hormones were going wild and landing on my face.  I went through every treatment and medication known at that time, save for one (more on that in a sec.).  These lotions, potions and treatments left me looking like "Lizard Lady".  My face would literally peel.  It was awful.  Finally, my dermatologist wanted to put me on a medication called Acutane.  Ever heard of it?  Nasty stuff. Even then my teenage self wasn't comfortable with a medication that required weekly blood draws and that could cause severe birth defects - to treat acne.  I ended up finally going on birth control pills and that cleared my skin up within a month.  You know, the whole hormone thing.  Well, I'm not so sure about that whole route at this point in life, but it was what it was.  I was even required (by my dermatologist) to use specific washes, lotions and make-up during that time.


I told you all that to say this - I wish that I had known then what I know now. I truly believe that I could have had great results without all of the medication or side effects.  I still have some hormonal issues today that I'm working on, but honestly, my skin has never looked better.  So, I feel it's fitting to share some of the things that have helped me in regards to skin care.  Ironically, the thing I get the most compliments on is my complexion.  Can you say, "Grace of God"?  


One thing I have noticed as I've switched to more natural skin care items is that not only do they improve my skin, they improve my pocket book.  It's amazing how much more inexpensive this type of skin care regime is compared to even the drug store brand skin care lines.  And, if you're currently using high end products, you can save some serious dough.


So, tomorrow I'm going to kick off this series by starting in the place where it all began for me...toners.


Hope to see you then!


UPDATE:  As I write posts in this series, I am going to link them here as well as in the "Natural Skin & Body Care" tab at the top of the top of the blog to make it easy to find them.


Witch Hazel Toner
Rose Water Toner
The Oil Cleansing Method
Natural Bar Soap
Moisturizers
Eye Cream
Baking Soda Exfoliator
Sugar Scrub Exfoliator
Pimple Buster
Hot Oil Treatment
Two More Toners
Egg Yolk Mask
Lavender & Chamomile Salve


I'm linking this up at The Homestead Barn HopMonday ManiaReal Food 101, Hearth and Soul Blog HopTeach Me TuesdaysFrugal Days - Sustainable WaysWildcrafting WednesdaysSimple Lives Thursday and Living Well Blog Hop.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fried 'Tater Peels


Thanksgiving is just right around the corner.  I would think it's safe to say that most families include mashed potatoes in their holiday menu.  So, today I want to share a quick tip with you that will not only save you some waste, but will provide a tasty snack.  Incidentally, when I was a teenager I used to hate when my mom would refer to something as tasty.  Mirror, Mirror on the wall - I am my mother after all. LOL!  Anyhoo...


Before you peel all those lovely taters, wash 'em.  Most of the nutrients in the potato lie in the skin.  So, don't send those nutrient packed little buggers to the trash, fry them up!  Heat your oil, fat or lard and then drop your dried off potato peels into the hot oil in batches.  You'll know they're done when they shrink up and turn golden brown.  Remember to always stay close when you're frying something.  You don't wan't this to happen.  Drain on paper towels or brown paper.  As you pull each batch from the oil, sprinkle with sea salt or your favorite seasoning.  You could get very creative here.  Think Lowry's, curry, cajun, ranch packets... You'll only be limited by your imagination (or your pantry).  I happen to love them seasoned simply with the sea salt.  Call me a purist if you must. :0)


Incidentally, if you don't want to fry your potato peels right away, I'm confident that you can keep them in a bowl of cold water in the fridge for a day or so.  Just be sure to dry them first.  Remember, oil and water don't mix.


If frying isn't your thing you could toss the peels in a little oil and roast them.  This will take longer than frying them, though.


Anyway you choose to make them - just make them.  You'll be glad you didn't send your 'tater peels to the trash heap!


I'm linking up at This Chick CooksReal Food 101Monday ManiaThe Homestead Barn HopHearth and Soul Blog HopFat TuesdayTraditional Tuesdays and Frugal Days - Sustainable Ways.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Natural Hand Sanitizer


There's a young 'un that lives in my house that likes hand sanitizer.  I mean, he really likes it.  Let's just be honest.  He loves the stuff.  When he would spend the night at his Mamaw's house when he was little they would inevitably end up at the mall at a certain shop that is known for it's lotions, potions and all things that smell good.  He would always come home with 3 bottles of the kid's scented hand sanitizers.  I didn't really like how much of the stuff he'd use, but I didn't really understand the dangers of it at that time, either. I now know that there are ingredients in hand sanitizer that we want to steer clear of, for the most part.  Nasty ingredients that promote antibiotic resistance.  Not only that, but this certain child who lives in my home has really sensitive skin.  Especially his hands.  For this reason, I try to keep the use of hand sanitizer only to times when it's not possible to get to soap and water.

However, sometimes this little person in my house is able to get his hands on some.  They were giving it away at the chiropractors' office few weeks ago.  I kept hearing a spraying sound and smelled something while we were in the car.  "Isaac what are you doing?"  "Cleaning the car seat."  "With what?"  "Hand sanitizer."  I then proceeded to take it away from him and explain to him (once again) the reason that we only use it when we can't get to soap and water.  That it's not made for cleaning things.  It's made to kill germs on your hands.  He then apologized.  Fast forward a couple of weeks.  We're at home and he comes out of his bedroom smelling like vanilla.  "Let me smell your hands."  I sniff.  "Have you been using hand sanitizer?"  I vaguely remember seeing a small bottle floating around somewhere.  To which he replies, "I was cleaning my arrow heads with it."  "First of all, you don't use it to clean arrow heads.  You don't use it to clean anything.  It's for your hands.  Secondly, I thought I told you I didn't want you using it unless you can't get to soap and water?  Where did you get that anyhow?"  To which he responded that he was once again sorry and that while he was having a sleep-over with his mamaw they ended up at the mall in a certain shop that is known for it's lotions, potion and all things that smell good.  Unbeknownst to me, he bought the hand sanitizer with his allowance.  I (once again) made him hand the defender over and told him (and his mamaw) that he was not allowed to buy hand sanitizer.  The child just can't help himself.  I realize that.  I also realized that I needed to try to come up with a better alternative for those times that we really need to de-germ.  So, I set out to make a natural hand sanitizer.  I used 4 ingredients and combined them in a sample sized spray bottle.

My base was witch hazel.  It is very inexpensive and can be found in any drug or grocery store.  This stuff is amazing and I always have it on hand.  According to www.herbs2000.com, it is an herb that is usually found as a liquid tincture and is known to be helpful in healing inflammation of the skin, sunburns, insect bites and stings, scratches and bruises.  It has many more wonderful properties, but these uses were enough for me to determine that it would make a sufficient base for my hand sanitizer.

Next, I added about 10 drops of lavender essential oil.  I love the smell of lavender, but I added it because it is anti-bacterial. It's also wonderful to add to your homemade cleaners because of this reason.  See www.aromaweb.com for more information on lavender essential oil.  I also added about 10 drops tea tree oil, which is antiseptic, anti-microbial and germicidal, also according to www.herbs2000.com.

The last thing I added was just about 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. of grapeseed oil to help act as a carrier for the essential oils and to off-set any potentially drying effects of the hand sanitizer.  Olive or jojoba oil would work really well, also.

I made sure that I had enough room to add my oil and essential oils then finished filling my spray bottle with the witch hazel.  I just make sure to give it a good shake to mix everything up before applying it.

I'm no doctor or herbalist, but with the few things I've learned about the essential oils, I'm thinking that my new hand sanitizer should get the job done without the scary effects of industrial hand sanitizers should a certain little someone in my home not be able to resist the urge to break into the hand sanitizer again. :0)

I'm linking this post to Frugal Days Sustainable Ways blog hopYour Green ResourcesSimple Lives ThursdayThe Homestead Barn Hop and Living Well blog hop.